• Nick Smith

Conservation Minister Nick Smith today announced that he had approved the major Resource Management Act (RMA) consents for the new Clifford Bay Port development proposed by Tranz Rail. At a ceremony on board the Inter-Island Ferry Aratere, Dr Smith presented Trans Rail Chief Executive Dr Francis Small with the signed consents.

"The Clifford Bay project is one of the biggest and most important developments in New Zealand. The processes under the RMA have delivered a comprehensive
basket of approvals and conditions which mean the development will be good for the company, good for the economy and good for the environment."

Trans Rail first lodged their RMA applications for consent in August 1996, attracting nearly 500 submissions. The Restricted Coastal Activity consents
issued by Dr Smith today have conditions imposed as a result of the hearings by the Environment Court and Marlborough District Councils, to ensure that many of
the concerns raised at the hearings are dealt with. The Environment Court has issued all the other necessary RMA consents.

"The process shows that the RMA does work, even in difficult circumstances, but that improvements to the Act contained in the RMA Amendment Bill currently before Parliament, will improve the process for all parties."

"Clifford Bay is a text book case of how the changes in the Bill will cut back on process costs and delays while protecting the environment."

Clifford Bay is 44km south of Blenheim, near Lake Grassmere, between the townships of Seddon and Ward, and 8 nautical miles closer to Wellington than Picton. The new route will clip 15-30 minutes off a crossing and save about an hour on the journey from the terminal to Christchurch.

The new terminal will be constructed 1.3km from the present shore and will take about 3 years to build. The construction will involve 21 ha of reclamation, 45
ha of capital dredging of about 100,000 m3 of material which will be used in the reclamation, and ongoing maintenance dredging. The consents presented today
include those for dredging and disposal, occupation of seabed, structures and vessel movements.

"This port project will allow New Zealand to move into the 21st Century confident that it has a modern, efficient and sustainable transport system
linking the North and South Islands. It is a linkage that underpins our economy, our way of life and our sense of national identity. I congratulate Tranz Rail for their vision and for the approval of this development proposal."